The NFL's punishment for NFL owners who run astray of the law is an absolute joke. We reaffirmed that sentiment on Tuesday afternoon when Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay pled guilty to operating a vehicle under the influence six months after a humiliating arrest in March. Soon afterwards, Roger Goodell swung his helium-filled balloon gavel.
While Niners linebacker Aldon Smith will be decked $1.2 million in pay while serving the nine-game suspension handed down upon him by Goodell, Irsay will be banned for six games and fined a maximum of $500,000.
Yes, you read that last part correctly. The league's maximum fine allowable for an owner is just $500,000 drop in the bucket for misbehaving owners.
Irsay will probably just pay his fine with the suitcase he had in his backseat at the time of his arrest.
However, while NFL players are rich, NFL owners are wealthy. It's incongruent for a player to be signed such a heavy portion of his salary while franchise owners, who are supposed to be held to a higher standard get slaps on the wrist in relation to their respective net worth and NFL profits.
Conversely, even the NFL's maximum penalty for owners, which may be raised in the near future is $2 million. Because team owners don't have to disclose financial records, we have no exact amount for how much of a profit Irsay is earning as Colts owner, but you can be assured he won't flinch as a result of today's announcement.
Goodell talked a big game after announcing Irsay's suspension saying, "I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players."
All bark, no bite. This was just good PR.
Punitive fines are designed for players to discourage them from repeatedly violating the personal conduct policy or even dangerous helmet to helmet tackles. There is also no drug testing program for Irsay, whose tox screen at the time of his arrest was positive for oxycodone and hydrocodone, unlike countless players have been forced to do after similar DUI arrests. While Irsay will spend the next six weeks banned from any sort of association with the Colts franchise, there will be no forfeiture of draft picks or revenue.
CBS Sports' Will Brinson suggested a unique punishment for the Colts' Twitterbug of an owner, who was also banned from using socia media as part of a trivial, yet hilarious aspect of his suspension.
If the NFL really wanted to punish Jim Irsay they’d make him use Google Plus for six weeks.— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 2, 2014
It sounds funny, but it's not much more of a joke than the farce of a penalty Irsay's already incurred.